Saturday, March 13, 2010

Geburtstag! at the Joh. Jos. Prum Estate in Wehlen

So this year, I had to work on my birthday, even though it was a Sunday... but I spent it with folks I enjoy working with, and best of all, I had dinner in a foreign country where I was treated like family at an estate many wine enthusiasts have heard of, the estate of Joh. Jos. Prum in the town of Wehlen in the Middle Mosel.

Not only was Manfred Prum there, but also his wife Amee, and his daughter Katharina, and Manfred's eldest brother Echart, who was in from Frankfurt.

I've had the pleasure of tasting wine and dining here in the J.J. Prum dining room two times before, and always, one is treated like honored guests, and that's really a lot of fun.

First off, we tasted the 2009 vintage wines from the vineyards of Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Bernkasteler Badstube, Graacher Himmelreich, and Zeltingen Sonnenuhr. I won't go through the individual tasting notes of all these Rieslings, but I will say instead that the 2009 wines were very easy to taste, as the wines were very open and expressive, crystalline pure and succulent. Balanced and not too acidic nor sulfury. Great wines that Manfred compared to the 2005 vintage.

After that, a beautiful home-prepared 3-course dinner that showcased how delicious German cuisine can be, and how well German Rieslings pair with such dishes.

The first course was a foie gras served on a slice of sauteed apple with a side of toasted brioche. This was paired with a Goldkapsel Auslese from J.J. Prum, though the exact vintage and vineyard I did not note (too busy taking the night off and enjoying).

The second course was a smoked local fish purchased nearby... the name of the fish I was not certain, but I was sure that this was very delicious, as was the mustard sauce that accompanied it. This course was paired with a drier J.J. Prum wine, not bone dry, but drier than the previous Goldkapsel (proof that you can start with a wine with more residual sugar, then go on to a drier wine, especially when food is involved).

The final main course was most intriguing. First off, when it was being served, we weren't sure what it was. Bright red in color, with a creamy sauce underneath, it could have been steak tartare - we didn't know. But soon we learned that it was Red Spatzle with a Gorgonzola Sauce. The red spatzle was made with beets in the dough, giving it a delicious naturally sweet flavor and that vibrant, striking color. Along with the blue cheese sauce and diced tomatoes on top, the dish was amazing, savory, with explosive flavors, the sweetness of the beets playing off well against the intense flavors of the blue cheese. And needless to say, the dish was perfect with another one of the J.J. Prum Rieslings.
After a meal like this one, it would be so difficult to deny the draw to German cuisine. It is just too much of a shame that this type of German food doesn't often make it to our neck of the woods. If only there were fine German restaurants here serving such homemade delicacies instead of the too often touted sausages and schnitzel.
There is, though, one restaurant I know of in Los Angeles that does have some menu items such as these and that would be 3 Square in Venice. I've had spatzle there with morels that was quite spectacular. I'll have to go back there sometime soon.
But I digress. After our dinner, we tasted more wines from older vintages, with much guessing of the vintages and the vineyards, a game I didn't do too well at this year. We did, however, end on a very special wine, a 1971 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, brought by Manfred's eldest brother Echardt (how special is that?) and enjoyed by us all. What a lovely treat! And Manfred's wife saved me the label, which I kept and brought back with me as a souvenir.
In summary, I had a very pleasant birthday in Germany in the middle Mosel. My coworkers and bosses were awesome, I got a German birthday card signed by all, and the food and wine experience was one of a kind. Life is good!

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